Short film director Gerard Lough is making quite a name for himself these days in horror circles. The Boogeyman, his adaptation of the Stephen King story, has been well received on the festival circuit and continues to garner praise. Film Ireland caught up with Gerard to discuss The Boogeyman and the man behind it.
Can you tell us how The Boogeyman came about?
Like a lot of up-and-coming film directors, being given the reins to a feature film was still something out of my reach. So the next option is do another short film. But I soon realized that this time it needed a commercial edge. Short films are shown on TV once every blue moon and cinema screenings are now a rarity so your film needs something different that’s going to make it stand out from what your contemporaries are doing, let alone stand a chance on the international film festival circuit. I didn’t know any famous actors or trendy bands, but I did remember a documentary I saw about The Shawshank Redemption which mentioned that’s its director, Frank Darabont, had previously made a short film also based on a Stephen King story (1983’s The Woman In The Room). So I quickly deducted that having a film based on a short story by an astoundingly famous author can’t hurt. That said, when I read The Boogeyman (taken from King’s short story anthology Night Shift) I fell in love with it, put the marketing strategy to one side and just became hell bent on bringing it to the screen in a vivid and exciting way.
How did you fund it?
I would like to be able to tell you that it was achieved by donating my body to scientific research but the truth is it came from shooting a couple of weddings and scrimping. So I guess the moral of the story is don’t knock Wedding videos. The money can be used to fund your more artistic efforts and besides you’re still telling a story by way of 150 different camera set-ups which have to be decided upon within seconds, which might explain why none of my films have ever gone behind schedule. My deal with King stipulates that the film cannot be commercially exploited therefore that rules out asking a third party to put in as they will never see a return on their investment. Other organizations associated with the Arts turned us down flat as they saw the project as… too commercial. Catch 22. So myself and my producer had to go it alone.
It’s doing really well on the festival circuit – tell us a bit about its success and screenings to date.
Well to say it had a lot of press would be an understatement. One of my fondest memories was hearing that Ryan Tubridy praised the film on his Radio show after reading an article about it in the Irish Times (cheers, Ryan!). And you can’t help go all silly the first time you see an article about it a well-known film magazine such as SFX.
It’s also fair to say that the reviews have been terrific. The general consensus is that we took the source material seriously, strong performance from lead actor Simon Fogarty, great visuals and as well as being genuinely creepy, it has things to say.
Most importantly of all it has had a strong reaction from audiences at festival screenings. Each time I got the sense that after the film’s opening scene (a painfully difficult reverse zoom that makes my head hurt thinking about even now) that they were expecting a by the numbers gore fest but were now watching something very different than what they expected. And it was fun hearing their theories afterwards about what they think is the true meaning of the film’s rather ambiguous twist ending.
How did you originally get into filmmaking?
In retrospect I was lucky enough to do a two-year Diploma course that was much more practical than theory based. It was there I learned to operate a camera, edit, direct, organize, etc. So very early on I learned to be both hands on and self-sufficient. When I was doing an internship at a very good advertising agency in America, I used my spare time and newfound resources to good use and directed my first music video (‘Rachel Hates The Sun’). After that I was up and running.
What’s next for you?
I’d like to do one last short film. Blade Runner is my favorite movie so the project I’m preparing right now is a mix of film noir and science fiction. Besides it’s not like Ireland has produced many Cyberpunk / Neo Noir films, right? I have also just finished a feature-length script version of a short film I made in 2008 called Deviant, which was about serial prowler whose days are numbered. And finally, to bring things full circle back to The Boogeyman, I hope to have my first short story published in the autumn. If none of these projects get off the ground… then I’ll reconsider donating my body for scientific research.
The Boogeyman will be shown at the Underground Cinema Film Festival in Dun Laoghaire on 9th September.